Apple has mounted a legal challenge to try to stop Woolworths from using its new logo, insisting the logo looks too much like an apple.
But Woolworths says the green logo (see below), filed as a trademark in August last year, is not intended to remind customers of an apple, but a stylized ‘W’ or an ambiguous piece of fresh fruit.
“This is what Apple does,” says Brandolgy principal Michel Hogan. “It goes after anyone that comes within an inch or a mile of what it considers to be theirs.”
“In this case, I’m sure that the possibility of being challenged by Apple was way down the bottom of Woolworths’ list of things that could have gone wrong in the role out of this new logo.”
“It has probably come as a huge surprise to them.”
Woolworths registered the trademark last year as a blanket trademark, meaning it could be used on any product sold by the company, from mobile phones to fresh produce.
But the probability that Woolworths may decide to retail electrical goods bearing the logo is one of Apple’s main concerns, analysts say.
“Woolworths is tipping a hand to their future aspirations by picking a logo that can be applied to anything,” Hogan says.
“Realistically though, this is not something that would be a problem for Apple.”
“Even if Woolworths does go into electrical goods retailing, can you imagine a consumer faced with the choice of a product from Woolworths or Apple and saying ‘hmm I’d prefer Woolworths’?”
“And in any case, I really can’t see [the logo] as looking like an apple. If any fruit, I’d say it would be two curly green bananas.”
Apple will now try to convince IP Australia to knock back the trademark application, which was filed in August last year.
If successful, it will cost Woolworths “many millions of dollars,” Hogan says.
The logo’s designer, Hans Huklsbosch, told The Age that Apple’s challenge was taking trademark protection “to the extreme”.
“Based on this logic, they would have to take action against every fruit seller,” he says.
Woolworths adopted the new logo last August as part of an image overhaul which included dropping the name Safeway and was intended to distance the supermarket’s image from that of rival Coles.
Apple and Woolworths representatives were not available for comment.